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Why the Chargers drafted who they did on Day 3

How do these four players fit into the Chargers’ plans for 2020 and beyond?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 07 Big Ten Championship Game Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Day three has come to an end which also means the end of the 2020 draft season. We can all push our scouting reports and documents to the side and take a deep breathe. The players are where they are meant to be. The futures for hundreds of athletes are now beginning to unfold.

For the Chargers, they called the names of four young prospects throughout the day and changed the lives of them all for the better. Those players were running back Joshua Kelley (4th round), wide receiver Joe Reed (5th), safety Alohi Gilman (6th), and wide receiver K.J. Hill (7th).

Anthony Lynn and Tom Telesco had their reasons for making each of these picks. I’m about to test my hand at why they pulled the trigger for these four instead of others when they were on the clock.

Why they drafted Joshua Kelley

  • Hometown Kid
  • Senior Bowl Invitee
  • Physical, downhill runner

Kelley was a pick I saw coming from a mile away the second we all found out they wanted to potentially draft a running back this year. He not only got the invite to play in Mobile, he took full advantage of it by churning out the best rushing performance during the Senior Bowl scrimmage earlier this year.

Lynn and TT also enjoy drafting prospects who played at schools around the LA area. Since Lynn was hired in 2017, he’s also drafted Uchenna Nwosu (USC) and Scott Quessenberry (UCLA), both in 2018 class.

At 5’11 and 212 pounds, Kelley is the biggest running back on the roster and will likely be used as a complement to Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson. He loves to run through contact and rarely attempts to evade tacklers. He’s also no stranger to pass-blocking, which is a huge plus for any rookie running back.

Why they drafted Joe Reed

  • Can be utilized at WR and RB
  • Special teams value as kick returner
  • Physical at the catch point

Heading into this draft, I was hoping the Chargers would invest in one of the players viewed as a “offensive chess piece” like Memphis’ Antonio Gibson or someone else in the same mold the 49ers Deebo Samuel. Gibson went on day two so that wish was quickly erased once the Chargers traded away their day two picks on opening night. But the Bolts came away with versatile player in his own right. At 6’0 and 220 pounds, Reed is built like a running back but played exclusively at receiver for the Cavaliers over the last two seasons. According to him, however, he plans to play all over the offense for the Chargers.

Expect him to be an interchangeable piece with Ekeler that will give the Bolts formational fluidity when they’re both on the field at the same time.

You also can’t forget his value as a kick returner. Although the team did just sign fellow UVA alum Darius Jennings, he’s more of a punt return specialist while Reed deals in kickoffs.

Why they drafted Alohi Gilman

  • Versatility to play SS and sub-package linebacker
  • Instant special teams contributor
  • TT loves Notre Dame players

It’s just not a Tom Telesco/Anthony Lynn-led draft if the Chargers don’t draft a player from Notre Dame. In fact, they have made it such a habit that the Bolts are starting to earn the nickname “Notre Dame West.” Gilman will join former Golden Domers Isaac Rochell, Jerry Tillery, and Drue Tranquil out in L.A., along with some of that family he’s already said resides on the west coast.

This pick was a bit of a head-scratcher due to the depth the team already has at safety. But when you take a step back, you realize that the Chargers are probably using Gilman as a potential Adrian Phillips-replacement in sub-package linebacker role along with being an immediate special teams contributor.

Why they drafted K.J. Hill

  • Humongous value that late in the draft
  • Elite route-runner
  • Consistent and reliable for a blue-blood school

To the fan base’s immense surprise, K.J. Hill was still available in the seventh round after many came into the draft expecting him to get taken somewhere between rounds three and five. Hill was a standout at the Reese’s Senior Bowl with his ability to create separation on a consistent basis throughout the week. Many thought he was the best wideout there, to be honest.

Hill instantly has the fast track to win the Chargers’ third wide receiver spot, even over Reed who was drafted two rounds earlier. Reed’s expected usage at other spots and on special teams likely means he doesn’t the chance to see significant time on offense. Hill’s combination of route-running and elusiveness adds a dangerous variable to this WR group. The position got better, even if they didn’t draft a pass catcher with blazing speed.